Boni & Wes is a true story told by Boni Mnisi and Wesley Leal. Helen & Kim, filmmakers from Capetown, worked with Mnisi and Leal to create a narrative documenting the couple’s journey, drawing on their individual perspectives.
Told in their own words, Boni Mnisi and Wes Leal reflect on their experience as an openly queer couple at an all-girls, Christian school in Johannesburg, South Africa. We learn of Wes’ struggle in coming to terms with trans identity, the loneliness of a long-distance relationship and most importantly, of a love that is evolving, brave and kind.
Kim Hinrichs (Director) 'We wanted to tell this story because we were moved by the bravery and generosity Boni and Wes showed in documenting their journey and sharing it online and we really wanted to pay tribute to that. We are extremely grateful to them for trusting us with their story.'
Helen J. Raine (Director/ Writer) 'We worked with Boni and Wes over the course of a year to ensure that they were involved in every aspect of the film – from the writing, all the way to the wardrobe.
We created each vignette to represent a chapter of their story by drawing on their personal art, videos, photography, collage, zines, and images that they found resonated with them. We also ended up using some of Boni and Wes’ personal footage in the final cut. It was super important for everything to feel like ‘theirs’.
Wes Leal (actor/ writer) 'I’ve always believed it was important to be outspoken about my identity and my own experience and so it became clear that I needed to be as visible as possible for those who can’t and so when Helen and Kim approached us with the idea of a short film I realised that I had been given an invaluable opportunity but also an extremely important task. Rewriting our story and reliving all the moments and experiences from our high school days was both really hard and fun. I’m so grateful that Helen and Kim chose such a collaborative approach we were all so close by the time we filmed that it was so easy to just be ourselves in front of the camera.'
Boni Mnisi (actor/ writer) 'Bringing our love story to life was a moment and opportunity that will remain indescribable. We we’re given the chance to reconcile with our former, younger selves, make peace with all the adversity we faced, and then bask in the fact that we’re living the life we’ve always wanted: One where we can constantly exist in each other’s pockets. Our story is one that a lot of people can relate to, specifically younger queer people in potentially toxic environments. I want them to see that there is a way out, it does get easier to be yourself. I’m so proud to have been a part of something so special and important for all of us!'
Zenn Van Zyl (DOP) 'We shot on the Sony Venice paired with KOWA Anamorphic glass. We felt that the combination of the two gave us the right look for this project, producing the rich skin tones and amazing colours of the film. The KOWA Anamorphics’ distortion drew the viewers eyes to the centre of the frame, letting the edges fall off into swirly bokeh. This helped us keep the world very intimate and contained around Boni & Wes’ experiences.
We also made use of 8mm Film, Kodak 250D stock, to create a more intimate/ nostalgic feeling between Boni and Wes. We tried to keep these shots less planned and more ‘In the moment’ to help us achieve the aesthetic of stolen private moments between the characters.'
Production Company: Motion City Films ( @motioncityfilms )
Director: Helen & Kim (@helenandkim) (@helenjraine, @kimhinrichs.film)
Helen J. Raine (@helenjraine)
Boni Mnisi (@sensitive_black_dyke)
Wesley Leal (@mr_leal__ )
Starring: Boni Mnisi and Wesley Sebastian Leal (@sensitive_black_dyke @mr_leal__ ) Producer: Reinette du Toit ( @reinetski )
Executive Producer: Lisa Grobler ( @groblerlisa_ )
DOP: Zenn Van Zyl ( @zennvanzyl_sasc )
Art Director: Jade Ashton Skully ( @foxxyles )
Make Up: Shanaaz Alexander ( @shanazledazzle ) Wardrobe: Nico Nigrini (@niconigrini )
Photographer: Gabriella Achadinha ( @gabriella_achadinha ) Editor: Xander Vander ( @xander_vander )
Colourist: Nic Apostoli ( @nicapostoli )
Online: Darion Simon ( @darian_dawood )
Post Production: Strangelove Studios (@strangelove_post ) Sound Design: Rob Brinkworth ( @rob.brinkworth )
Sound Studio: Resonate Audio ( @resonate.audio )
Original Soundtrack composed by Joshua Biggs ( @joshshhhh )
‘Low Blow’ - Honeymoan ( @honeymoanband ) Blackened and Bruised – Nakhane ( @nakhaneofficial )
Starring Boni Mnisi and Wesley Sebastian Leal
Directed by Helen & Kim
Written by Helen J. Raine, Boni Mnisi and Wesley Sebastian Leal Executive Producer Lisa Grobler
Producer Reinette du Toit
Director of Photography Zenn van Zyl SASC
1st Assistant Camera Pascale Neuschäfer
2nd Assistant Camera Julius Mwale
1st Assistant Director Jarryd Reece Jacobs
Behind the Scenes Photography Gabriella AchadinhaGaffer Grant Forbes
Best Boy Lights John Muremyi and Lennox Ndabula
Spark Siegfried Krull
Art Direction Jade Ashton Scully
Art Sourcing Bert Paauw
Art Assistant Nadia Tromp
Production Assistant Kyra Copley
Wardrobe Master Nico Nigrini
Hair and Make Up Carmen Thorne and Shanaaz Alexander
Unit Manager Eric Jason
Unit Assistant Ashley Faragher
Catering Corlette Beck
Craft Assistants Hannah Oelz, Andrya Blagusz & Elijah Ndoumbé Editor Xander Van Der
Editing Assistant Shelby Ncube
Colourist Nic Apostoli
VFX Artist Darian Simon
Post Production Strangelove
“Intro” and “Outro”
Original Music and Scoring by Joshua Biggs
“Blackened and Bruised”
Performed by Nakhane
Label: Just Music, BMG France
Performed by Honeymoan
Written by Alison Rachel Stewart, Joshua Luke Berry, Kenan James Tatt, Skye Luke Mac Innes
Final Sound and Audio Mix Rob Brinkworth at Resonate Sound